LOS ANGELES, CA — A man desperately clinging to a tree in a stretch of the rain-swollen Los Angeles River near Griffith Park was hoisted to safety Thursday morning, and the dramatic rescue was captured on video.
Preliminary information indicated that around 10:10 a.m., a man was spotted in the river hanging on to the tree, according to a Los Angeles Fire Department alert. The area is in Atwater Village, about a quarter-mile south of Colorado Boulevard.
“When firefighters got in scene they did in fact have a 50-year-old male that was mid-stream, clinging to a tree, and that was in need of an immediate rescue,” said Fire Captain Erik Scott.
A California Highway Patrol officer and an L.A. park ranger kept their eyes on the man from the shore while LAFD ground and air units responded, including swiftwater rescue teams.
Firefighters arrived within minutes of the call and were deployed upstream and downstream, according to Scott. Ultimately, they decided it would be best to airlift the man out.
An LAFD chopper located the man just before 10:45 a.m., Sky5 video over the scene showed. However, efforts became complicated when the rescuer who was lowered down had trouble reaching the man. The rescuer kept spinning in circles and appeared to struggle,
Eventually, the rescuer made contact with the man in the river and the two were hoisted up together to the LAFD helicopter.
The patient was conscious and alert, but was suffering from hypothermia, according to the Fire Department. Paramedics provided immediate aid to the man, who was taken to a local hospital in fair condition.
The rescue took place as a storm drenched Southern California Thursday morning, filling the L.A. River with rainwater. The depth of the water at the time was not immediately known, but it was traveling at speeds of about 15 mph, according to LAFD.
It was unclear why the man was in or near the river at the time, authorities said. The area is known for having homeless encampments that get flooded in heavy rain.